THE BOOK OF LISTS: The 10 Best US TV imports

1. BAND OF BROTHERS. BBC2

There's no-one currently working in British TV who can even conceive of TV like this, never mind being able to carry it through. Band of Brothers is about epic heroism. Cue tittering at the back of the class. And usually with some justification - because traditionally such notions are the stock in trade of the worst types of political low life. Not here. Even if you've never imagined yourself playing soldiers, this was immensely powerful TV.

2. WEST WING. CHANNEL 4

There's lashings of schmaltz and hokum in this White House drama but somehow they get away with it. While President Bartlett, played with convincing panache by Martin Sheen, gets on with all the leadership stuff, a very able ensemble cast manages to keep an impressive number of sub-plot balls in the air.

3. SIX FEET UNDER. CHANNEL 4

What's happening here? Americans who can even contemplate laughing at the death industry? On TV? Set in a Los Angeles funeral parlour, this show is prime cult viewing material. Shame it doesn't really qualify. Too many people are watching it already. It's written by the writer of American Beauty, which is recommendation enough.

4. SMALLVILLE. CHANNEL 4

That's Smallville, Kansas, home to the adolescent Superman. In other words, before he was truly Super. Or, indeed, a man. But don't feel short changed - this is actually the true heart of the American Dream. True as in completely phoney, but it presses all the right buttons: small town, mid-West, way back when.

5. FRIENDS. CHANNEL 4

Friends is undoubtedly the biggest ratings puller and dollar earner out of all the US exports, but by any definition it's way past its best. So let's take this opportunity to mention a whole load of other tired but solvent shows that we're not going to give a whole entry to either. Shows such as ER, Frasier or anything to do with Star Trek and its many spin-offs and mutations. Come to think of it, MASH and Cheers are still lurking in the more obscure backwaters of digital TV too.

6. THE SIMPSONS. CHANNEL 4, BBC2, SKY, ETC

Over the past few years, anyone who's anyone in broadcasting has had a piece of Homer and Bart action. Like Friends, it could be forgiven for feeling very, very tired. But just when you think you're bored with The Simpsons, and you know you've seen every episode at least twice already ... bam, they hit you with a new one and you remember just what it was that made you fall in love with it in the first place.

7. WILL & GRACE. CHANNEL 4

Americans do kooky far better than we can ever dream of. Compare this to, say, Babes in the Wood. Or that new one ... The Americans just reinvent I Love Lucy or the Mary Tyler Moore Show. Hysteria has never felt more at home and rich bitch Karen and her put-downs completely steal the show.

8. SEX AND THE CITY. CHANNEL 4

Yikes! A wattle of tough old birds out on the pull. Now we know why so many male New Yorkers identify with Jack in Will & Grace.

9. CSI. FIVE

There's something odd about this programme. Odd as in alien, based on DNA types that have not yet been identified. It's as if it has been synthesised by computer systems analysts in a Korean corporation based on videos of 80s TV like Miami Vice, with dialogue courtesy of outtakes from Twin Peaks. Except it's really not that interesting.

10. THE OSBOURNES MTV AND CHANNEL 4

Awesome TV. Take Ozzy, once one of rock's wild men but now living in Beverly Hills, his days of excess evident by a lot of trembling and forgetfulness. Take also his ugly and dysfunctional family. Mix in some pointlessly petulant behaviour and much swearing. Now point a camera at it. You'll find that it works. You'll agree it's unmissable.